The Westcliff Mannequin: A real-life princess!

And so continues my creative-crush on the team from Publicis, Montreal, Canada. They are obviously highly conceptual, have a driven cohesive attitude as a group and have found a place where their client’s message can resonate with powerful imagery and just the right amount of explanation to go with it.

Their concept-heavy print ad for Westcliff Shopping Centers speaks with an intelligent audience rather than to or at them. This is not a call to action ad or hard sell in any shape or form. It stands proudly on its own turf and gives you the chance to engage with it – or choose not to. If you ask me, it is likely to incite some giggles, fuel many great conversations and even spark creative-debate. Did someone say “brand awareness”? Whether arguers are for or against the execution, those conversations have the potential to turn viral and, where they go from there… well, you couldn’t measure that even if you tried. Either way, just because I’ve fallen in love with a piece of plastic, it doesn’t make me a dummy (tssk tssk).


Brand preference is a biggie and with over 200 000 shoppers a day, the Westcliff Shopping Centers – like their ad agency – must be doing something right! Even the mannequins need to take a break. God-knows – looking pretty aint easy!

What do you think?

Credits:  Advertising Agency: Publicis, Montreal, Canada | Creative Directors: Nicolas Massey, Carl Robichaud | Art Director / Digital artist: Bogda Truta | Photographer: iStock

Pigs can’t fly. Purina Puppies can!

Clever Ads are clever because, without trying too hard, they make you step back, have an ‘ah’ moment and with a bit of extra luck, start conversations about themselves that last long after the ad itself does. Publicis Montreal does exactly this with this print execution for Purina; a puppy so happy with his food that he is about to take flight. Because what do happy puppies do? They wag their tales! So enough said!

It’s clever without trying too hard. There is no copy because conceptually it is strong enough without any and, for any pet owner looking for a new brand for man’s best friend, you are going to remember this one and no doubt be convinced to spend some money on it.

Advertising effective: ka ching!

Credits:  Creative Directors: Nicolas Massey, Carl Robichaud | Art Director: Julien Thiry | Copywriter: Florence Majérus | Photographer: Alain Desjean |

I like! What do you think?

Advertising with a conscience: Rhino poaching

The only thing most of us lose daily is time. That and the battle for a smaller waistline. Something Africa loses more of daily is the Rhino. The rapid increase of poaching has reached epidemic proportions on the continent and, without awareness, the Rhino population doesn’t stand a chance against the selfish onslaught by big business, for big business.

Advertising has a powerful voice that, when used to its full potential, can do its bit to help turn the tide. These powerful print ads from Johannesburg based agency, Stick, prove just that in their “Save the Rhino” campaign. Straight-talking and effective, these images are powerful enough to be supported simply with the tagline: “Nothing we do will ever bring them back.” Small on Copy. Clever with imagery. Big on story. That’s a powerful, memorable combination that can go a long way to communicating what you need to say without actually ever having to say it.

We’re a funny lot us humans. We take, take, take and then behave with shock and horror when things are finished. The sugar, the milk, the toilet paper… If you don’t put more in the kitchen or the bathroom, well then yes Sparky, you’re pretty much screwed. The difference here is, once these majestic animals are gone – they will be gone forever. So take that popular Asian belief that Rhino horn cures everything from colds to impotence, and work harder to find something else. Why not try Echinacea or Viagra? And for those that hunt these animals for their ornamental or fashion opportunities – don’t even get me started.

Did you know?

Seven endangered rhinos were killed in southern Zimbabwe from early December to mid-January. 2010 was an extraordinarily bad year in Southern Africa as 333 Rhino’s were poached – nearly three times as many that were lost in 2009. Another five more rhinos were killed in the first weeks of 2011. These numbers are staggering. From 21 000, how many more reports like this must we read before that number dwindles to triple, double and then a single digit?

Springbok, Giraffe and Zebra don’t need to play the part of the Rhino. God knows they have enough to worry about all on their own. Let the Rhino play the part of the Rhino and, if you can, get involved – before it’s too late. Because it really is true: Nothing we do will ever bring them back.

Finding your talent is finding your voice

I like tales of survival. I like the underdog who rises above circumstances and makes something notable of their reality. Pressure is a horrible place to be and there is no truer justice than when those injustices can be shown the door. Here’s a story just like that one… about a girl who undeniably dug her way out of blood and fire.

Let’s just get one thing out the way for starters: P!NK is an absolute mastermind at her craft! The way I see it, her art makes an important contribution to pop culture because of what her music means to the millions of boys, girls, men and women of all shapes and sizes – all around the world. And when you come to think about it, what unites us better than music?

Nothing.

Her latest offering is no different and the release of the video for “F**kin Perfect” has so many people saying “…that is so my life right now!” This girl certainly digs her way out of blood and fire and what I get from Alecia Moore’s message is that she owed it to herself, if not anyone else – because there is something inside that needed its chance to shine, right?

Finding your talent is finding your voice. A voice that speaks about a love for whatever you do best; paint, draw, sing, add, build, solve, advise, enthuse, amuse or write. There’s a place inside you that you should celebrate and it is absolutely necessary to find your way home. I’m glad she did and I hope all those who need the same thing have the chance to see this.

It will help.

I promise.

Change the voices in your head. Embrace change and nurture your own rebirth.

(Beer) Boys will be Boys

Now we’re talking! Boys will be boys – and why should they be any different when it comes to competing for the last beer? The storyline is that basic and it’s perfect – because it doesn’t need to be anything deeper. What would the point be? Doesn’t beer sell itself? It’s beer. ‘Course it does!

Arm wrestling gets taken up a notch for Tiger beer when each player vies for the last beer in dramatically unfolding new incarnations – and what a visual spectacular the revelations are! Shape shifting never looked cooler on its way to the beer buzz and when you finish off with a hot blonde… well, most guys would say you had them at ‘hello’.

What’s impressive is the realism within the non-realism. From the featured extra’s to the hero in each scenario, these guys take this realm of comedy seriously – and look serious. There’s a little lesson in that somewhere (take note insurers); don’t act. Be. Even if being a Tarzan jungle junkie isn’t relevant today. Make it look hot, deliver a performance that respects the VFX being done (and vice versa) and you’ve got a memorable movie that supports the brand and its reputation.

A goodie all round. What do you think?

OUTSURANCE TVC: A nasty taste in the mouth!

For most people, the thought of insurance companies illicits sweat and a really nasty taste in the mouth. The only person who thinks differently is the owner of the insurance company himself. He’ll schmarm you with how they are the good guys, have cut out the middle man or promise you less yadda yadda and more ching ching. If their communications efforts are so true to their word, why is filling out an insurance claim form no different to the Spanish inquisition?

This is the minefield of emotions that their agencies have to traverse to get you – the consumer – to choose them over the other dozen companies out there. That very challenge is what leads to commercials like this one. “The Invisible Man” plays on the notion that OUTSURANCE is with you every step of the way; that their service is of such notable effect that it will be as if “it” (the accident, theft and so on) never happened. Makes you wish the commercial never happened, doesn’t it? It does for me. I can understand that they may have been aiming at a very different viewer, in which case, sure: the message is clear enough. But then why, pray tell, is this being flighted in prime time across upper LSM channels? Either the target of the message is wrong or the media planner needs a kick up the ol tush.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogvC4jAX2UE

I don’t buy the performances either – in any of them in the series! “Pull overrrrr…”. I would have driven passed her and thrown an elocution manual in her lap. For an organisation that must make millions and millions a year, I reckon they should allocate a little bit more to their advertising budget. Go figure. They say you always get something out. Bad memories was it for me!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmuMzemR3pQ

What do you think?

Take a walk with me on Google Street View

 H. Stanley Judd said that a good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there. What if it showed you more? What if it gave you an almost-palpable experience? What if 52 Cassiobury Rd, E17 London, was no longer a memory address but something you could vividly visit, everyday, from your desk in Johannesburg South Africa?

These questions are so last season for the high brow intellects, geographers, photographers and web designers who got together and put the world on your laptop. Twenty seven cities and towns to be exact; where bad-attitude air hostesses and grouchy customs officials don’t matter, and the only visa you may need is the one in your wallet. Why? Because with all this new discovery on offer, you are no doubt going to want to spend!

Dr Julie Taylor from Google’s Communications and Public Affairs reveals why Google Street View is just so dam cool – and what this ultimately means for marketers. New opportunities abound within the relationship between Street View and both marketers and their brands! “Around 80% of the world’s information has a geographical component to it and nearly half of all searches are local in nature,” says Julie. “Whether searching for the perfect restaurant, checking out the best hotels or finding the nearest bank, millions of people around the world already get Google Maps to do the hard work for them.”

So the benefits are predominantly tourism driven? Wrong. Google Street View – although colossal for the tourism industry – puts prospects on the table for (just about) anyone with a physical address. “Local South African businesses and website owners can easily list themselves for free in Google Places (formerly known as Local Business Listings),” says Julie. “We want local businesses to make the most of this free technology to help promote themselves.”

This service is free and only goes to bolster connections, networking and awareness on a local and global scale. If you are “walking” down the street on Street View and pass a store like GAP for example, you have the opportunity to explore information about this outlet through the marker for that address. “The marker contains info about that particular business on the ‘Place Page’. Businesses both large and small can edit the Place Page with useful info about themselves, or specific promotions.”

Despite the visual splendour of what’s happening across the pond(s), you really can check out who has got shop – and what they do. A quick glance at 678, 7th Avenue, New York taught me that Gaiety Productions, Allmobile Video, Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding Banquet, New York Mammot Marquis, Kool Hair, Discovery Document Solutions – and more – are yours for the spending at. A similar search locally of 112 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg will tell you that LimelightSA agency, The Goodman Gallery, David Krutt Publishing and Professionals on Call are all a saunter away.  The proof is in the street view, there’s more than just tourist attractions for the taking here! You can promote your business by showing your building façade; link it to a website address, show nearby amenities, landmarks and other, lesser-known attractions.

As far as Google Street View enhancing the tourist experience goes; we all know that these visitors have to eat, play, fill up hire cars, readdress what they packed wardrobe-wise, and everything in between.  Plus, everything they buy has a tax built in. The point is, that the circular flow of human traffic can now have a better idea on where the closest grocery or clothing store is, foreign exchange bureau or all night club. Know more. Want more. See more. Spend more. When checking out your hotel, you can browse nearby restaurants and shops, find something you like and click through its icon to take you to their business listing; find out the name, address, hours, and even read reviews. “Embedding a Street View image on your website via the Google Maps / Street View API application also makes customers’ lives easier by showing them your shopfront, office or closest outlet, and how to get there,” says Julie. At this point, a location in Street View will show the top listings within the immediate area, but this coverage is expanding and will soon include more business and transit locations as well.

And? What about the conspiracy theorist that worries about identity theft or how the world might be after them? No concern necessary. The day you step out with spotty skin and dark circles under your eyes has no bearing on Google Street View – nor is it going to give your ex any more ammunition against you. A blurring technique is applied to all faces and number plates to protect the identity of Homo sapiens and their identity everywhere. You may not even feature at all; the images on Street View are of what was seen on the street at the time of capturing the imagery. Sure, this will date and need to be updated, but the experience is user driven rather than time driven. How would this affect a marketing billboard that might be referring to a specific promo or campaign? Luck of the draw for exposure, and just bad luck that the promo – even though out of date – is still being shown. Interestingly, there is the case of the KFC man’s face on a billboard outside the MEN Arena in Manchester that was blurred too. Tricky. But Street View is not here to leverage your marketing spend. It’s here to highlight how internet users look for information and how Street View can change this.

Whether you are marketing tourism or dreaming of worldwide voyages to destinations imagined, visual thrills are now material and a more tempting view of where you’ve always wanted to go might put you that much closer to actually making it happen. You know what Ralph Waldo Emerson says? “Knowledge comes by eyes always open and working hands; and there is no knowledge that is not power.” Take a walk with me on Google Street view.

Originally written for and published in the Journal of Marketing.

Advertising meets Tourism-Promotion: Remembering 2010

As we draw the brain-engine out of the shed and fire it up for a feisty 2011, we will no doubt be dusting off some great 2010 memories and memorabilia; car flags, Vuvuzela’s and Makarapa’s. Remember when the 2010 World Cup was all we heard and talked about, and when TV, billboards and print media were consumed by a power like no other – the World Cup Currency! Here in South Africa, we saw a total Footie takeover like nothing we could compare it to.

I think it is interesting to see how we looked from the outside in, and what foreign tourism councils did in their bid to get their nations behind their teams, bums in aeroplane seats and voice boxes in stadiums. From ambient to print, and CSI to motivational, these are some powerful and memorable advertising images from a poignant and memorable year that no doubt did tremendous amounts for inbound tourism.

The combination of the attraction to this sport and how well it was marketed locally and abroad obviously did something right! “Nine out of ten foreigners visiting South Africa for the purposes of the World Cup said that they would recommend South Africa to friends or family as a holiday destination, according to African Response’s World Cup Visitor Survey,” (Malan Jacobs, TrueCrimeExpo.co.za).

Whatever 2011 is going to be, it has big shoes to fill. A lot of people are still to be convinced that 2010 was a great year after all, but whatever it was to you individually, it saw us host the World Cup. It also gave Advertising and Tourism many great opportunities to celebrate what billions of people around the world love and admire: No, not football or soccer. Togetherness.

Originally written by me  for Travelwires.com.

Advertising meets Tourism-Promotion: South Africa

We take for granted what we are surrounded with here in South Africa – and boy do we have a lot! Sometimes it takes a South African Tourism ad to remind us of this beauty we live so close to. Advertising for Tourism – as for any other industry – takes on the responsibility to incite, invite, titillate and motivate across a collection of powerful messages; through art direction, design, cinematography and copywriting – ultimately arranged to make the viewer to want to go there, do that or buy that.

I think South African Tourism have done a terrific job on all of the above with this commercial, and bring the exquisite complexity of a nation and country so mixed, so rich, so poor and so eager to entertain – into one very pretty 60 second commercial. From the sheer rock face that connects the city to the plateau of Table Mountain, across country to where the drummers and marimba players play and the dancers dance in destinations off the beaten track. And from the planes that boast primal wildness in the Kruger National Park, Pilanesberg Park, Addo Elephant Park, Lion Park and even Ellis Park, to the wine routes, garden routes and ‘jolling’ routes through the Cape, along the coastline and that connect the inner cities, suburbs and townships respectively. And then there are the people; 49 million of them that compliment the surrounds and will accelerate your heart rate to 120 beats per minute, for sure!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2rEb52pp1s

Beautifully shot, this South African Tourism commercial captures the intimate moments that flicker and pulsate between locals and tourists alike, while showing off just how visual and vast South Africa really is. It conveys the message to people in far off countries that coming to South Africa is possible, and shows that what you hear on the news shouldn’t be what you think you might get to experience here. There is simply so much more to see and do in this place on our continent that marks the meeting of two oceans; a place that makes it fair to promise that you will take a thousand memories from one country, South Africa.

Originally written by me  for Travelwires.com.

Advertising meets Tourism-Promotion: Eurostar

The link between Advertising, Marketing and Tourism has always been obvious to me. I have always been the kind of person who is starved for imagery. It feeds the imagination and lays the foundations that cement goals. It was Aristotle who said that the soul cannot think without a picture. I agree. This must be the very reason I used to trawl travel agencies as a child, asking for brochures on America and Europe to take back to my bedroom where I would leaf through the pages with just-washed-hands and let my imagination run wild on where I could go and what I could do when I got there.

The only thing that has changed is that I don’t go to travel agencies anymore – and just because it is so easy to find everything and anything on our computers. Ergo, we are no less stimulated and impressed by imagery. So when it comes to Advertising and Tourism, the key is no doubt to incite, invite, titillate and motivate. This is a powerful combination that will make the viewer to want to go there!

Eurostar has harnessed the power of imagery with their “When Was The Last Time You Visited London?” print ads. Using someone that looks like your aunt, a young boy that could be you or your neighbour and an odd looking couple that could do with a makeover – these drive the point that, in answer to the question the ad asks, it has obviously been too long. Ad critics might look way beyond the point and argue all sorts of drivel; why should you go to London just because you haven’t been there in a long time? Well, why not? Go find something else to badger! For €88 from Paris or Lille to London, that’s all they want you to know. It’s easy, it’s accessible, and it lets you know that you could be there when you might have thought you couldn’t. Throw in a little comedy with the way these print ads are styled and I reckon you’ve got a great – and effective – campaign.

With the London Olympics on many people’s minds, Wimbledon ever year, a plethora of A-List Stars performing all the time – not to mention a host of other mega attractions – there is a lot on offer in the city of the high tea. Why not simply advertise this? Jolly good show to Eurostar and their agency “leg” I say ol chap! It is what it is, and it’s great! Aristotle had it down pat. What tourism ads have you seen lately that made you want to abuse your credit card?

Originally written by me  for Travelwires.com.

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